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Thousands Attend Wedding of Israeli Woman Who Lost Her Father and Brother in Terrorist Attack

Just weeks after losing her loved ones, Sarah Tehiya Litman delivers a lesson in true grit

Liel Leibovitz
November 30, 2015

Armed conflicts, especially long and protracted ones, aren’t decided only by the size of the combatants’ arsenals or the brilliance of each side’s strategy. Often, they’re decided merely by grit, by one side’s utter refusal to surrender, no matter how overwhelming the odds. The French learned this lesson at Dien Bien Phu during the First Indochina War, when 50,000 Vietnamese carried light artillery on their backs through mountainous passes and delivered a crushing defeat to the otherwise superior French force. The Germans learned it in the early 1940’s in London, which stood tall even as one million of its homes were destroyed or badly damaged and 20,000 of its men, women, and children perished in the Luftwaffe’s Blitz. And if the Palestinians waging a relentless campaign of senseless violence against Israeli civilians want a glimpse of how their war is likely to fare, they need only look at the wedding of Sarah Tehiya Litman and Ariel Beigel.

On November 13, Sarah’s father, Ya’akov, and her brother, Netanel, were driving to her Shabbat Kallah, a pre-wedding celebration, when Palestinian terrorists shot them both. A Red Crescent ambulance, arriving on the scene, saw that the wounded men were both Jews and refused to offer any help; the Litmans, father and son, died shortly thereafter.

Rather than cancel the wedding and retreat into their private grief, which would have been utterly understandable, the young couple chose to demonstrate strength in their darkest hour: They not only proceeded with the wedding as planned but decided to hold it in Jerusalem’s largest convention center and invite any Israeli who wanted to partake in their festivities to attend the reception, which took place last Thursday. As the young couple emerged from the chuppah, they were delighted to learn that thousands—more than 5,000, according to some reports—chose to accept their invitation, including Israel’s First Lady, Sarah Netanyahu, and representatives of all sectors of Israeli society, from left-leaning Tel Avivis to residents of Judea and Samaria and Haredi men and women from Jerusalem.

“This evening, I have to say Kaddish on my father and sing ‘Come, O Bride’ for my sister,” said Sarah Tehiya Litman’s brother, Dvir. “But we’re showing that no one will ever defeat the people of Israel. We are here forever.”

Liel Leibovitz is Editor at Large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.